Murder comes once again to the attention of Dubric Bryerly, castellan of Faldorrah Castle. The decapitated bodies of livestock have been found in theMurder comes once again to the attention of Dubric Bryerly, castellan of Faldorrah Castle. The decapitated bodies of livestock have been found in the downtrodden village of Quarry Run, followed by the decapitated bodies of human beings. Dubric and his team scour the countryside searching for clues, each one seeming to point at a more sinister menace behind the string of disappearance and death, Dubric's old bane, the poisonous taint of a dark mage.
From dark secrets locked behind the walls of a local sanatorium to sinister influences poisoning his home and new love, Dubric must put together each new puzzle piece and solve the mystery before a treacherous evil rises again.
In a way, I'm rather disappointed with this, the third book in the Dubric Bryerly series. I'm not disappointed with the writing, which is as taut and enthralling as ever, nor am I disappointed with the story, which was the richest and most complex of the three books. No, I'm disappointed by the fact that upon reaching the end of the book, there seems to be no more follow-up novels in sight. Which is quite frustrating as the end of the book did in no way end the stories of the characters involved. Quite the reverse. I am left hanging, eager to continue following the lives and adventures of these characters and saddened by the knowledge that, for the foreseeable future and to the best of my knowledge, I won't be allowed to do so.
Don't let that discourage you from reading this book, though. Though murder is once again the main feature, it somewhat downplayed, the novel instead focusing more on the relationships, personal and political, of the people driving the story. It felt as though the book was preparing itself as a springboard for a whole new arc of stories, by laying down more of the history of Faldorrah, the Mage Wars, and the political machinations which have brought Dubric into the position he currently holds. I've sent out a call to Tamara Siler Jones not to leave us readers hanging and she's listened. In fact, she has plenty more tales of Bryerly and company to tell, but if she doesn't get more support from the reading public, publishers won't know to publish her. You can do your part and support her by buying as many of Siler's books as you can; send publishers a message that she's a talent which needs to be supported and heard....more
***WARNING******WARNING*** If you are easily disgusted, if you are at all squeamish, if you are put off by graphic descriptions of violence, do not, I***WARNING******WARNING*** If you are easily disgusted, if you are at all squeamish, if you are put off by graphic descriptions of violence, do not, I repeat, DO NOT read this book. To quote a review from the Sequential Tart, "For a nice, Mid-West housewife, Jones is a sick lady. I mean that in the nicest way."
In The Reach, the semi-wild outer lands of the kingdom of Faldorrah, young men are disappearing, being taken by someone, something unknown. Two molested and mangled bodies have washed up onto the shores of the local river, prompting Dubric Byerly and his investigative team to travel north, into The Reach and into the grip of dark and malevolent magic.
Searching for the latest missing boy, Dubric, haunted as he is by the ghosts who've died unavenged, soon realizes the deaths are far more in number than he could've imagined. Now, more than one boy's life hangs in the balance. The safety of Dubric's pages, Otlee and Lars, two young men ripe for the taking, is endangered by the plague of evil magic, once thought to have been wiped off the face of the earth, which threatens to rise again. Following the tangled skein of clues leads Dubric into a confrontation with the most venomous of evil mages, a foe Dubric fought once before many decades ago in the soul-scarring Mage Wars. Will Dubric have the strength to vanquish this evil once and for all, before it destroys everyone and everything he loves?
I thought the first book was quite graphic and gory, but it was just a prelude to the violence depicted in Threads of Malice. Now, for me, that's not a problem as I'm not a squeamish person, but I'm not kidding about the warning I posted above. If you've got a strong stomach, then by all means, go ahead and read this book. If not, please don't, although you will be missing out on some mighty compelling and powerful storytelling. Jones' books are not all about the violence; each story weaves a complex mixture of romance, faith, family, and ordinary heartbreak into the horrendous crimes which sit at the heart of each book. One might not think that tender scenes of budding love and innocent courtship could fit amongst scenes of such brutal horror, yet they do, providing a balanced counterpoint of lightness to the weighty bleakness of the crimes. Tamara Siler Jones isn't a familiar name in the fantasy genre, but I think it's high time she gets some well-deserved notice....more
Nikki Heat, the newest character from acclaimed writer Richard Castle, is a tough New York detective saddled with an annoying magazine writer by the nNikki Heat, the newest character from acclaimed writer Richard Castle, is a tough New York detective saddled with an annoying magazine writer by the name of Jameson Rook. Pulitzer Prize-winning Rook is writing an article about New York's finest and through his friendship with the mayor managed to pull enough strings to get permission to follow the exploits of Heat and her team of top detectives as they work the case of a real estate tycoon who took a header off his balconey. Amidst a record-breaking heat wave in the city, Heat must navigate the seemingly unconnected crimes of an assault on the tycoon's trophy wife, the theft of a multi-million-dollar art collection, and a second murder, all the while sifting through the many suspects who had something to gain from each crime. Not to mention the spark of attraction she feels towards Rook, despite, or perhaps because of, his charmingly irritating ways. Which will combust first, the city or Heat and Rook's chemistry?
Okay, so substitute all the character names from the t.v. show Castle for the characters in this book and you have an episode of the show, pretty much. As I was reading, I could see Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle as Jameson Rook interacting with Stana Katic as Kate Beckett as Nikki Heat. Is that a bad thing? Well, if you enjoy Castle as much as I do, then no, it's not a bad thing. What we have with Heat Wave is an inoffensive police procedural mystery with a marginal amount of blood and violence (just enough to get the job done), only a little bit of sex (but nothing graphic--what a shock), and no cursing (which is an even bigger shock), which makes for a nice change. Is it realistic? No. Is it fun and fluffy book, enjoyable and easy to read? Yes. Am I looking forward to the next Nikki Heat novel by "Richard Castle"? Hell yes....more
Why, oh, why can't we give books 10 stars? If it were at all possible, I would. I would give this book one hundred stars. I finished this today and alWhy, oh, why can't we give books 10 stars? If it were at all possible, I would. I would give this book one hundred stars. I finished this today and already I'm in withdrawal. I didn't want to stop. I tried, I tried very hard, to read Killbox as slowly as possible, to savor the story. But like any attempts of mine to savor a rich piece of chocolate, to let it melt on my tongue and slowly infuse my senses with its deliciousness, I failed miserably. From the first page, I got so caught up in the story, I couldn't not turn the pages as fast as my eyes devoured the words.
There's no way I can coherently describe the story to non-readers of this series. I'm nowhere near eloquent enough. I am in complete awe of Ms. Aguirre. She has created a series so rich, so lifelike, so real, even though the story is set in space and features aliens and concepts so totally science-fiction in nature. Despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, her characters live and breathe. None of them are perfect; each one has fears and hopes and character faults. In other words, they are three dimensional, just as real human beings are. And the relationships between them are real, not picture-perfect ideals, but messy, hard, fractious, delightful, fulfilling, full of mistakes and missed opportunities and moments of wonder. This alone would make the books wonderful reads, but the storytelling, the weaving of these characters' actions into wonderfully exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, emotional stories, make Ann Aguirre's novels top-rate, in my opinion. Plus, she made me cry. I can't tell you how many years it's been since I've cried while reading a book; too many to count. But she did it, and I'm not a weepy person. That's the mark of how involved Aguirre makes you become with these people--Sirantha Jax, March, Dina, Hit, Vel--that when they feel pain and loss, you feel it, too, and cry because of it. Though I know it is impossible, for my part I hope Sirantha Jax continues her adventures through many, many more books in the years to come; unlike chocolate, I can savor them as much and as many times as I like without getting fat....more
This will be the shortest review I've ever written: What a freakin' awesome book! Honestly, the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. A real pageThis will be the shortest review I've ever written: What a freakin' awesome book! Honestly, the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. A real page-turner, with humanity, humor, and knee-jumping action. Read it. That's all I've gotta say. Read it.
Re-read August 17-22, 2013: Can't add anything new to my review as it pretty much says it all. This book is freakin' awesome and Sirantha Jax is one of the best, most fully-fleshed and entertaining characters to leap (and I do mean leap) off the pages in years....more
If I could, I would kneel at Ann's feet and worship her as a god. I would sit there for hours, or for as long as she would let me, and absorb all theIf I could, I would kneel at Ann's feet and worship her as a god. I would sit there for hours, or for as long as she would let me, and absorb all the knowledge and wisdom I'm sure she exudes. Because that's the only way I could ever find the talent and capability to write as well as she, if I ever could, that is.
Enclave is Ann's first YA offering and it kicks serious ass. Frankly, and as much as I loved The Hunger Games, if the two were matched in a head-to-head smackdown, Enclave would win hands down and leave The Hunger Games limping, bruised, with a couple of black eyes and perhaps a torn-off ear. It's that good. Then again, Deuce, the protagonist of Enclave, is the natural heir to the bad-assery shown by the star of Aguirre's other series, Sirantha Jax.
Deuce lives in the enclave, an underground dwelling built into the remains of the New York subway system after the second holocaust, in the near (or far) future. It's a hard life: only if you survive the first fifteen years do you get a name; until then, you're only identified as a 'Boy' or 'Girl' brat and a number. During those years, you train as either a Breeder, a Builder, or a Hunter. When you get your name, you also get your arms scarred, the number of which identifies you for life: two for breeder, four for builder, six for hunter. Hunters have the most dangerous life, having to go outside into the tunnels in order to find food, all the while braving the marauding monsters called Freaks. Almost-human, but yet not, with razor-sharp teeth and claws for fingernails, they eat the dead, even their own, and attack anything that moved. They've always been a threat to the enclave, but lately the Freaks are becoming more bold, more intelligent, which makes them even more terrifying.
Deuce is proud of becoming a Huntress, proud that she can now justify her place in the enclave. But she's not so proud to become the partner of Fade, an outsider who joined the enclave after surviving for years in the tunnels on his own. Of course, Fade's not too happy either, especially when the two of them discover some unsettling truths about the Freaks' behavior and it seems as though all Deuce wants to do is carry on the enclave's party line, one of defiant ignorance. That all changes when Deuce slowly begins to question all that she's been told growing up in the enclave, especially when she's put into a situation not of her making which results in her and Fade being exiled. As the two make their way Topside, Deuce finds herself facing new vistas, new truths, and new feelings unlike any she's ever known before.
Deuce is one of those rare YA characters who actually grows and changes as the story progresses. Not always for the good, perhaps, but she doesn't remain the same character she was at the beginning of the novel. Because she's so young when the story begins (even though, in her society, Deuce is seen as grown up), the novel is a coming-of-age tale, albeit one that happens to mix in some knife fighting, ass-kicking, and Freaks. As with her other novels, Aguirre infuses even the most minor of characters with a depth and nuance, peopling the plot with a variety of likable and not-so-likable people who also manage to morph as circumstances change. Then there's the story, which isn't at all straightforward or predictable. It starts at one point, you think you see where it's going, and then it takes a turn. It's full of drama, heart-pounding action, and pathos; there's not a moment where the reader's attention drags or feels overwhelmed by exposition. There's nothing extraneous; it's a lean, tight, engaging book that moves even when the characters aren't.
My final words? I can't recommend Enclave highly enough. If you are a fan of the ever-expanding YA post-apocalyptic genre, you would do well to read Enclave. Once you do, you'll be hooked. Ooh, and then you can join me and we can create the cult of Ann Aguirre! There'll be t-shirts and everything! C'mon!
You know, I can't even work up enough emotion to hate this book. It's such a non-entity of a novel, it's not worth any great passion from me, in eitheYou know, I can't even work up enough emotion to hate this book. It's such a non-entity of a novel, it's not worth any great passion from me, in either direction. However, its inanity explains why it seems to have legions of teen and pre-teen fans: it doesn't require much brain power to read and the wish fulfillment aspect of the main character (I got a car for my birthday! My mom gave me a credit card to buy a designer dress!) would be a powerful draw to many readers, I'm sure. It makes me truly ecstatic I'm no longer a teenager.
Where do I begin? First of all, the story. There have been a great many comparisons to Buffy or, more accurately, accusations that it's Buffy-lite, and both labels are true. After all, it's hard to have a kick-ass YA heroine these days without inviting comparisons to the venerable Miss B, so a story involving a girl who's discovered she's some sort of “Chosen One” and is destined to fight evil has an obvious relationship to the original Chosen One. Then again, it is possible to have such a heroine and yet make her unique enough so that such comparisons are tangential, and, yes, in some ways, Anglefire differs from Buffy: she's reincarnated as the Chosen One, time after time; she fights reapers instead of demons and vampires; she, um..., she has...oh, yeah, she has flaming swords! And that's about it. Except for the fact that Buffy has ten times the personality and pluck of Ellie.
Basically we have this girl, Ellie, who's spoiled, rich, shallow, and insipid, who discovers on her 17th birthday that she's a reincarnated warrior who fights evil creatures that can only be seen in an otherworldly hinterland known as the Grim. Problem is, she doesn't remember her destiny or how to fight or pretty much anything about who she is (except when she kind of blanks out and flashes back and unconsciously remembers all this information, which is such a cop-out), so she has a bodyguard, Angel- I mean, Will, who hangs around her, tells her he'll always be there for her, and spends an inordinate amount of time in back-and-forth information sessions explaining what Ellie should be doing, how she should be fighting, blah blah blah. It all gets really tedious very quickly.
Never mind the fact that the writing is poor, with stilted dialogue, shallow characterization, and clunky and extremely long-winded exposition, full of info dumps and those ridiculous informational tennis games between Will and Ellie; Moulton has created a complex and rather confusing universe with her reapers and good angels and bad angels and the Preliator and the apocalypse and all manner of other angelic/biblical references, without any clue as to how to tie them all together into a cohesive whole. Additionally, all this drama is interspersed between scenes of such disgusting superficiality, it reduces the entire novel to an almost farcical level. As readers, we spend most of our time watching Ellie and her friends going shopping, hanging out at the mall, watching movies, going to parties, going on excursions, going to more parties—-basically behaving like typical, cavalier teenagers without a care in the world and certainly, on Ellie's part, not like someone who's supposedly responsible for preventing the coming apocalypse. And that's never seen as a problem, even to the people who are supposed to be preparing Ellie for her duty. “You need to start training, Ellie.” “But, I have to go to the mall and buy a dress for my birthday party!” “But your training is important.” “But so is my birthday! After all, everyone's coming to my party!” “Really? Oh, well, in that case, we can blow off your training. It's not that important.” The apocalypse isn't important? Who knew? Hey, all you doomsday preppers, stop worrying! It ain't that big of a deal!
Ellie, beyond her spoiled demeanor, is so flat as a character. Other than being spoiled and empty-headed, there's nothing to her. She has the appeal of a wet noodle, yet, like so many other YA heroines, she's soooo popular: everyone wants to hang out with her, guys fall all over her (even though she's oblivious to her appeal—-man, I am so freakin' tired of that cliché!), everyone loves her, and why? Because she has such a sparkling personality and depth of character? Give me a break. Oh, but she does have daddy issues, so that must make her interesting. Will is another one of those brooding, supposedly deep male leads whose only purpose in life is to support Ellie, to protect her from the big baddies of the world, to be a shoulder for her to cry on, to be her rock. Because, even though Ellie is a kick-ass warrior, she still needs a man to complete her and give her a reason to exist. Gag me with a spoon!
And I got all this from just the first 170 pages. However, I don't know where the book went because that's where I stopped reading. I just couldn't take it anymore. I'm just too damn old and too damn busy to waste my time on something so poor. I don't mind fluff; fluff is good, especially right after reading something heavy. Brain-damaging fluff, on the other hand, which is how I'd qualify Angelfire, is not good. At any time....more
**spoiler alert** I cannot believe I spent money on this book. Oh, it sounded good. A novel centered around a writer of fantasy novels, who uses her s**spoiler alert** I cannot believe I spent money on this book. Oh, it sounded good. A novel centered around a writer of fantasy novels, who uses her secret life as a demon fighting warrior as inspiration for her books, and her cigar-smoking, fast-talking imp companion. Intriguing, right? Well, it is an intruging premise, let down by a lackluster main character, a meandering, I would even say nonexistent plot, and a messy, jumbled, confused, mish-mashed storyline. Honestly, I've read some bad books in my lifetime, but I think this is the worst, mainly because it does have so much promise. The other bad books were let down by badly drawn characters, poorly told stories, or just plain awful writing. This is let down by all three.
First, we have the lead character, Tess Noncoire, the fantasy writer who's also a member of the secret society known as the Sisterhood of the Celestial Blade Warriors. The sisterhood is charged with protecting "nodes," portals which lead from our world into the world of demons. After succumbing to a near-fatal illness, an illness specifically designed to bring a warrior's power to life and allow her to bond with an imp companion, Tess goes through a period of intense training to prepare her to fight demons. Essentially she becomes a fighting machine. At least, that's what we're told...over and over again. We have to take the author's word for it, though, because Tess doesn't do much fighting. On the two occasions she does fight, her "prowess" mainly consists of ineffectively thwacking the threat with her weapon with the attitude of "Ooh, go away you nasty thing!" Wow, that's some warrior you've got there Ms. Frost. Other than the fact that we're told she's a warrior and a fantasy writer, we don't know much else about Tess. She's basically a cipher. Oh, she's still suicidally mournful over the death of her husband (I'll come to him in a moment). That's it.
Second, we have the story. Or perhaps I should say stories as the author included several, none of which really went anywhere or had anything to say or even seemed to have anything to do with one another. Story #1: Tess is on tour to promote her latest book...sort of. Instead of making the rounds of local bookstores, Tess seems to limit her trips to sci-fi fan conventions. Yet, despite the number of cons she visits (and trust me, we're subjected to detailed descriptions of multiple conventions), maybe at only one of them does she promote her book. The rest are visited just for fun. Do promoting authors really have that much free time? Not from what I've been given to understand. Granted, you can sense the author's love of fan conventions, with their close-knit camaraderie, costumes, and filking (sci-fi riffs on folk songs), but do we need such lovingly detailed descriptions for every con, or, for that matter, do we need the character to endlessly go to con after con? Unless you're setting the entire book in one (notice I stress one) con, no, we don't, so leave off already. Story #2: A big dog, almost demonic-looking, is attacking Native American girls in the Northwest, eventually capturing one, Cynthia, who Tess "rescued" during a fight with the dog at the beginning of the book. We later learn that this dog and Cynthia, whom the dog is actually protecting, are part of a myth involving the weaving of a blanket and the end of the world. Once Cynthia is taken by the dog, Tess searches for her (in between cons) and this is where this particular storyline gets stupid (-er): When Tess hears of a sighting of Cynthia and the dog not far from Tess's hotel, does she immediately go out and look for the girl? No, of course not, why would she? Instead she eats her steak dinner which has just arrived. WTF? If you're so concerned about this girl, wouldn't you go out to look for her if she was seen close by not more than ten minutes ago? The search may be fruitless, but I sure as hell would. Story #3: Donovan Estevez, who gets Tess's loins all hot and bothered, seeks her out and beds her, making her heart go pitty-pat and her concerns about him fly out the window with every flash of his sparkling white smile. Tess's imp, Scrap, warns her that he's bad and should be avoided. Now, she's supposed to trust this imp with her life in battle, but she can't believe him when he says Donovan smells bad and doesn't seem human? Plus there's the fact that Donovan is jealous of Tess's husband, who died three years ago, after a liquor-fueled whirlwind weeks-long romance and quickie wedding. Oh, and said husband, Dill, is now haunting Tess, telling her to get rid of Scrap so Dill can be her companion and come back to her. Huh? After that, things start to break down (even more). We get other ghosts who haunt Tess's life, a magical haircomb which is bleaching Tess's hair, an Indian casino which becomes the scene of an armed standoff as the tribe which owns the land declares its independence from the U.S.A., Tess's interfering and rude family, her former in-laws who have declared her marriage to Dill null. Oh, and Sasquatches, which are actually demons guarding the chatroom which leads to the demon realms. Is your head spinning yet? I know mine was. And I'm sure I'm leaving some things out as it's possible Frost may have introduced a few other plot points in later chapters. I don't know because I'm weak. I caved, I tapped out, I cried "Uncle!" and stopped reading at page 257. I just couldn't take the ridiculousness anymore.
Which is where the bad writing comes in. This is such a jumbled mess of a book, with no discernible plot, no real character development, no cohesion, no sense of moving from point A to point B. Reading it was like being a hamster on a treadmill: Lots of moving, moving, moving, without actually getting anywhere. I still, scout's honor, couldn't tell you what the book is actually about.
I went into this with an open mind. After about fifty pages, I thought, "Well, not much is going on, but it's a interesting premise. I'll probably end up giving this 3 stars." After about 150 pages, I thought, "What exactly am I reading? I mean, it's not bad, it's just not that good. Probably 2 stars." I've come away with the opinion that one star is too good for Hounding the Moon. No, wait, the cover art is pretty, so I guess the star can be for that....more